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The very best online civil engineering degree of 2022

We've found the best online civil engineering degree to prepare you for a career designing, building, and maintaining the physical world all around us.
Written by Melissa Sartore, Contributor on
Seven workers wearing vests and hardhats stand at the edge of a construction site.
Scott Blake/Unsplash

Civil engineering focuses on the manmade structures that make up our environments. Civil engineers oversee public works like roads, bridges, and water and sewer systems. They also design buildings, drainage systems, and environmental infrastructure.

Because civil engineers help make our physical world function, the demand for them remains strong. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, civil engineers are projected to see an 8% growth in employment by 2030. Additional civil engineering degree jobs include construction managers, environmental engineers, and surveyors. 

Few online civil engineering degrees exist due to the discipline's hands-on nature. We found one program that blends the convenience of online education with what goes into a traditional civil engineering degree.

What to expect in an online bachelor's in civil engineering degree program

A civil engineering degree blends foundational coursework in engineering theory with advanced classes in aspects of the discipline. Civil engineering encompasses topics like transportation engineering, hydraulic engineering, and environmental engineering. You'll take classes and complete lab requirements in areas such as 

  • Surveying
  • Structural design
  • Fluid mechanics
  • Computer-aided design
  • Transportation engineering

You'll complete many individual and group assignments to practice your skills. Elective courses may allow you to focus your degree on a specific area of the field. 

Many civil engineering degrees culminate in a final capstone project for students to demonstrate they are prepared to work in the industry.

For more details on civil engineering degrees, including other degree levels you can pursue, check out What is a civil engineering degree?

What courses will I take in a bachelor's in civil engineering program?

Civil engineering bachelor's degrees build your foundational understanding of the discipline. Though core courses are similar among programs, universities vary in the concentrations and electives offered.

Introduction to surveying

As an overview of surveying equipment, measurements, procedures, and processes, an introductory course in surveying sets the foundation for interpreting site surveys. You learn how to discuss and describe surveying, basic terminology, and the mathematics and science needed to use survey data.

Soil mechanics

A soil mechanics focuses on soil's physical and mechanical properties. It teaches you about soil classification, compaction and flow, permeability and seepage, and related topics. You'll explore testing soil, shear strength, and slopes and stability. 

Environmental engineering fundamentals

Topics covered include water and wastewater engineering, air pollution control, and solid waste management. By focusing on the past, present, and future of environmental issues and how they relate to civil engineering, you learn how to solve problems while designing and improving more environmentally friendly structures.

Structural engineering design

A class in structural engineering design focuses on the principles of concrete, steel, and masonry design. You also learn about structural analysis at the element and system levels. Coursework includes hands-on projects, problem sets, and group discussions. You'll gain insight into load and design safety, constructability and structural control, and load estimation. 

The best online bachelor's in civil engineering degree

ZDNet's ranking methods considers many factors to provide you with the best information about degree options. By combining federally reported data, expert insights, and programmatic and professional outcomes, our algorithm offers an objective and comprehensive take on the best online civil engineering degree. With only one program on the list, rest assured it's the best online option available. 

Unless otherwise indicated, data is drawn from the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System and College Scorecard.

1. University of North Dakota

Grand Forks, North Dakota

About the program: UND's online bachelor's degree in civil engineering includes 128 credit hours. The curriculum meets the education requirements for civil engineering licensure in all U.S. states. UND also offers a combined bachelor's and master's degree online, completable in 5.5-6 years. This program is ABET-accredited.

  • Acceptance rate: 87%
  • Graduation rate: 50%
  • Avg. annual net price: $15,738
  • Time to completion: Four to five years
  • SAT: Optional; most students scores' range from 1010-1250
  • Minimum GPA: 2.75 (recommended)
  • Enrollment periods per year: Three
  • Course delivery method: Asynchronous

This article was reviewed by Sierra Gawlowski, PE

A headshot of Sierra Gawlowski, a smiling brunette woman.

Sierra Gawlowski, PE, earned her BS in civil engineering and is a licensed professional engineer in the state of Washington. She has worked for a private engineering consulting firm as well as for public agencies. Sierra enjoys mentoring engineering students and junior staff. She also leads a project team for Engineers Without Borders and currently sits on the board of directors for Kilowatts for Humanity.

Gawlowski is a paid member of the Red Ventures Education Integrity Network. 

Last reviewed May 20, 2022.

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